Worker lost an arm after ‘entirely foreseeable’ accident at Keith grain firm

A Moray firm has been fined £50,000 for health and safety failings following an accident that saw one of their employees lose an arm.

Keith-based firm W N Lindsay learned of the fine when representatives appeared at Elgin Sheriff Court on Thursday following an investigation by officials from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The case related to an accident in October 2012 when John Thomson, 57, a foreman at the company’s Fife Park site in Keith, became badly trapped in machinery. The court was told how his arm had to be amputated at the scene of the accident.

Mr Thomson had been checking a conveyor for a blockage but as he was examining it a co-worker mistakenly turned on the machine’s isolation switch when intending to turn off another machine.

The court heard that a health and safety inspection earlier in 2012 had highlighted the operation of isolation switches as a potential hazard.

A solicitor representing the firm told the court that the company were deeply sorry about what happened to Mr Thomson, admitting that they had been complacent over the potential for accidents.

Representing the firm Mark Donaldson said: “The firm accepts that management became over-reliant on experienced employees and as a result instruction given to workers at Keith was neither significantly detailed or appropriately enforced.”

Sheriff Gordon Fleetwood judged that the firm was in breach of the Health and Safety Act 1974 and imposed a £50,000 penalty. He said: “In assessing the level of fine I’m not carrying out any sort of exercise that puts value on the horrific injury Mr Thomson suffered.”

Following the court case HSE’s principal inspector, Niall Miller, said the accident was “entirely foreseeable”, adding: “W N Lindsay’s failure to act to make sure its employees were adequately trained and supervised led to Mr Thomson losing his arm and having to change his working and social life.”

Leave a comment